As reported by Declan McCullagh on CNET (see below), ICE seized a hip-hop website for over a year, with no due process, for hosting pirated music–even though the site had authorization to host the music. Expect far more of this if/when the dreaded fascist SOPA passes.
Update: Story originally broken by Masnick here: Breaking News: Feds Falsely Censor Popular Blog For Over A Year, Deny All Due Process, Hide All Details…
A bizarre attempt by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to seize the domain name of a hip-hop blog accused of copyright infringement ended today with the government abruptly abandoning the lawsuit.
Government officials initially trumpeted the seizure of the music blog, DaJaz1.com, and 81 others as an example of the law prevailing over pirates. Attorney General Eric Holder warned at the time that “intellectual property crimes are not victimless,” and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director John Morton proclaimed that “today, we turn the tables on these Internet thieves.”
The only problem? It turns out that Holder’s and Morton’s claims appear to have been, well, exaggerated.
That started to become apparent when Dajaz1’s editor, who’s known as Splash, showed The New York Times e-mail messages from record label employees sending him unreleased songs. ICE had claimed that the music was “unauthorized.”
Then ICE treated the case as practically top-secret, filing all the court documents under seal, says Andrew Bridges, a partner at the Fenwick and West law firm in San Francisco who’s representing Dajaz1 pro bono.
“They kept getting extension after extension from the court under seal without showing me any papers whatsoever,” Bridges told CNET today.
What’s unusual here is that normally U.S. law strongly discourages efforts to censor Web sites before a full trial can be held. That’s called “prior restraint,” and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Pentagon Papers case that even top-secret national defense information did not qualify for temporary, pre-trial censorship.
But in the DaJaz1 case, a series of allegations of dubious reliability offered in an ICE affidavit were enough to censor a popular music blog–which had been featured on MTV News a few months earlier–for over a year.